Good poetry begins with
the lightest touch,
a breeze arriving from nowhere,
a whispered healing arrival,
a word in your ear,
a settling in things
– David Whyte
Craniosacral work is subtle, gentle and careful work. For the client, it is a clothes-on session, where they can deeply relax and be guided into a deep exploration of their body. On the part of the therapist, craniosacral work requires deep, attentive listening; listening to the words of the client and to the language of the client’s body.
Craniosacral work is based on the premise that the body has subtle movements that can only be felt with patience and stillness; these movements express our deepest patterns, patterns that are an expression of our physical form (e.g. the shape of our body and any injury or trauma we have experienced), our emotional spectrum and our spiritual path. By connecting with that motion the skilled therapist can evaluate health, be it physical, emotional or spiritual and assist in the healing.
Craniosacral work for babies and infants is the most gentle and effective form of therapy to help babies integrate their birth experience, stabilize their nervous system, and let go of birth patterns before they get rooted in their being.
Babies are at their most malleable and susceptible period of life, their bodies and minds regulate and grow depending on the information they perceive, subtle adjustments can go a long way in helping the babies’ nervous system stabilize and harmonize.
I offer low-cost craniosacral work for babies and I participate in a free craniosacral clinic among with some of the best craniosacral therapists in the Bay Area. Email me for more information about this clinic.
Nobody can counsel and help you, nobody. There is only one single way: go into yourself.
– Rainer Maria Rilke
The list of conditions for which craniosacral work is beneficial is vast, I will name and elaborate on three:
A) Trauma to the head – Examples: Anything from a baby unexpectedly tumbling, a skier impacting the back of their head, or a soldier experiencing intense shock waves. Effects: this can lead to i) a displacement of and/or ii) a lack of mobility in the the cranial bones. How the effects may be experienced: physically: pain located in the head and/or along the spinal column, in the case of an infant she/he may display difficulty in visually tracking the parents or latching for breasfeeding; emotionally: a distinct mood shift (tendency for depression after the incident or simply a persistent “I don’t feel like myself” awareness); spiritually: loss of one’s purpose, direction or motivation in life.
Possible form of Treatment: If comfortable the therapist may simply hold the head (letting it rest on their hands) and, by sitting in a meditative space of deep listening, connect with the patterns of eb and flow that naturally occur. After a thorough evaluation of the systems involved (skeletal, muscular, neurological), the therapist may apply a gentle pressure to encourage a particular movement.
B) Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMJD): Two frequent causes of TMJD are stress and dental work. Stress causes the jaw to be in a closed position and the muscles responsible for opening and closing the jaw to be consistently tensed leading to deterioration of the joint. Dental work: though often done with the best of intentions, dental work can be a traumatic event. This may result in setting up an unpleasant emotional association with anything done to or involving the mouth; this emotional tension may lead to physical tension and result in deterioration of the TMJ.
Skilled craniosacral touch can help the client to become aware of the source of tension and find the subtle motion needed to release it.
C) Trauma: The word “trauma” encompasses a large spectrum of events. A traumatic event can be physical, emotional, or spiritual though it is generally a combination of all three and the occurrence of a traumatic event touches your life and changes its course. These events have a tendency to haunt us long after they have occurred; in some ways, for the person living in trauma, they are always present, always occurring. In order to move on from the traumatic event our bodies need to process what happened and they do this, in part, by slowly letting go. Craniosacral work is ideal for this process because it creates a healing space in which you settle and relax and because its gentle nature invites change as opposed to attempting to force it (something that would only accentuates the traumatic process).
Craniosacral Packages Offered
Each series of 5 sessions is a journey (oftentimes an adventure) into the physical, the emotional, and the spiritual.
The Jaw - At one point in our embryonic journey the Heart and Brain develop side by side only to be separated by this structure that is the Jaw. It is my experience that, as an adult, the Jaw still sits between the Heart and the Mind and this package focuses on exploring this relationship.
Some of the physical structures we work with are: hyoid bone, cervical verterbrae, clavicles, upper ribcage, frontal, temporals, maxillae, mandible, pterygoids, and brain.
Energetically the Jaw expresses kissing, anger, eating/nurturing, holding back, bearing down, staying quiet, singing; with the Jaw we chew the information received from the world.
The Neck – Physically we work as far superior as the bones and muscles of mastication and as far inferior as the anatomy of the upper chest; special attention is given to the position and alignment of the cervical spine.
Energetically this is working with your voice, with speaking up and speaking out, with speaking your truth, with singing your song.
The Heart – Physically we work from lower neck to upper belly. We are deeply interested in breath and the associated structures such as diaphragm, ribcage, xyphoid, sternum, clavicles, thoracic vertebrae.
Energetically the Heart is our feeling center. We work with connecting to the Heart, sensing its path in life, exploring the ways in with it is open and the ways in which it is strained.
Private Content: If you are a client you can access the private page on The Heart where you will be able to view the guided meditations and have access to the information provided during this package.
The Eyes – Physically this work is focused on the bones of the skull and the vision processing centers of the brain.
The Diaphragm and Abdomen – These areas of the body are where some of our deepest traumas and tension patterns are stored. This package focuses on gentle deep work with the diaphragm, the ribcage, the deep muscles in the abdomen, and the viscera. Through gentle touch and guidance your body can let go and release tension patterns affecting breathing, digestion, emotions and much more.
Videos of Craniosacral Work
As well as practicing craniosacral work I find it extremely interesting and important to try and study this work further and to share this work with others. My studies are oftentimes through reading of books but more often they are through conversations with other practitioners. One practitioner with whom I have discussed craniosacral many times is Ella Vassallo.
In 2013 Ella Vassallo led a small workshop at the Florida School of Massage on applying craniosacral techniques towards assisting relief from TMJD (Temporomandibular Joint Disfunction). I was invited to film the workshop in order to make protocol DVDs. After the workshop she agreed to be interviewed; my goal was to simply record an informal conversation between the two of us with the aim of the viewer getting a glimpse into what craniosacral work is.
The videos in this page were either filmed and edited by myself. All videos were obtained with permission from all students, assistants and teachers at the workshops.
Interview with Ella Vassallo
Below is an artistic video of craniosacral touch made by myself and my wife Ursula.
- Bruno Ferreira
bruno.malta.ferreira (at) gmail.com
510 470 8851